By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane
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Videographer / director: Martin Brown
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Stephanie Fusco grew up dreaming of owning a pet monkey, and her dreams came true two years ago.
The 26-year-old told BTV: "I realised I wanted a monkey when I was in 6th grade, I was looking online and I was asking my dad for one, he didn’t know that they sell them so he was like 'yeah sure if you can find one for sale you can have one’.
“Then I started contacting all these breeders and they were calling my dad! He got really mad and I never got one.
"But then I finally saved up enough money and got him two years ago. It took a while but its probably best that I waited because it’s like having a child and I wouldn’t have been able to take care of him in 6th grade."
Stephanie’s monkey, Alexander Laurence Fusco, also known as Xander, is a white faced capuchin lives with her in North Carolina, where it is legal to own certain exotic pets.
Capuchins are medium-sized New World monkeys, native to Central America, however their intelligence and adaptability has made them sought after pets.
Stephanie said: “So the day I got Xander, my dad and I rode down to Florida together and I had seen all his pictures from the breeder and he was just so cute and then when I got there he was even cuter in person, I didn’t realise how tiny he was.
“He was just the cutest little thing I had seen. I had to have him, there was no going back. I mean I knew I was getting him anyways but then my heart was just stolen once I saw him."
Unsurprisingly domesticating a monkey hasn’t always been the easiest of tasks.
Stephanie said: “Caring for Xander has been a lot of work, when I first got him I had to bottle feed him every two to three hours for months and then you have to change them too.
“Sometimes he will have a temper tantrum but we get through it when he doesn’t want to do something. But that is a part of training him and making sure that he is going to listen and behave so they are not bad. If I say no he might twitch his tail, he usually listens though, he always listens to me."
Stephanie admits that her dedication to Xander the monkey has even affected her dating life.
She said: “One of my boyfriends was allergic and didn’t want him out [of his cage] so he had to go because Xander is not going anywhere. They have to be about them for it to work out, or if they are just not, you are going to have conflict in the relationship."
The duo spend most of their time together creating videos for his growing YouTube channel and the mini monkey has even gained himself a fan club, regularly receiving fan mail.
Stephanie said: "Xander actually gets fan mail as he has his own YouTube channel, it's a kid friendly channel.
"I have school teachers having their class sending him notes, it’s really cute and they’ll send treats and gifts and it’s just really sweet and thoughtful and I love it."
Despite Xander being Stephanie's world, she wouldnt recommend getting a pet monkey.
She added: "I wouldn’t recommend getting a pet monkey just because you look at them and you think that they are cute and it’s just an average pet, and that’s why rehoming happens and you just don’t know what you are getting into.
“It’s a way of life so you have to be committed from the start and you have to be passionate about it from the start. I’ve always wanted one so I thought I knew what I was getting into but I still didn’t.
"I mean I would get another one in a heartbeat, and it’s just a way of life, he’s gonna be with me forever - not everybody can do that kind of commitment and dedication."